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Kent's caterers have cooked up a storm of brilliant advice for our May/Jun issue, on sale now! Here, Kristi Collins of Seasons Wild and Free shares her expertise on relaxed wedding dining...
"There are fewer and fewer rules when it comes to wedding catering and the choice of wedding breakfast is practically limitless. For us though food needs to be thoughtful, ethical and sustainable and the event should be fun and relaxed.
"Relaxed weddings have become more popular over the last decade in part because people are more relaxed in general when things aren't quite so formal. Most of us love the sense of occasion and an excuse to dress up but couples are often choosing to leave the formalities at the altar in favour of a more convivial, fun affair. For Seasons, Wild & Free, this is our speciality. We create beautiful food made with thought and love served in a relaxed luxury style. Be it upscale picnics or sit down four courses, you can expect something delicious and decadent served in a celebratory style. Whilst the style might be relaxed, the quality is anything but. Our meat is organic, our fruit and veg local and our fish sustainable.
"With this mind, here are my ideas on how to have a fun and relaxed affair that won't cost this borrowed earth!
THE CANAPE PARTY
"Canapés are the perfect way to start the second phase of the day. Once you've said your 'I do's' the mood often goes up a gear from the solemnity and sentiment of the vows to the celebratory tone of the wedding breakfast – canapés are your first opportunity to set this tone. They should be as beautiful as they are delicious and should be in the spirit of the event. If you've gone for an upscale restrained style you might favour something like a whipped goats curd with truffled honey and thyme or ceviche with sesame soy dressing. For a more rustic affair you might like coarse pâté on granary bread with a sweet garlic chutney, sweet and sour pickled onion and cornichon. Although traditionally canapés are served as a pre wedding breakfast appetiser, there's no reason you couldn't select a few more substantial items to make it your whole wedding breakfast eliminating the need for crockery or cutlery, tables or chairs.
THE PICNIC WEDDING
"A beautiful alternative to the constraints of formal dining. Bespoke boxes that can be served inside or out, at tables or on turf. The ultimate flexible dining experience with your guests decanting beautiful, surprise packages of yumminess is a great way to get them talking and sharing. Menus range from the traditional to the exotic and from classic picnics to fine dining. Everyone is served together and food is served at room temperate so no panicking if schedules run over. We love this idea so much Seasons, Wild & Free now offer Crate & Create as a dedicated dining offering taking the picnic to new heights of relaxed luxury. Our picnics showcase local producers as well as home made yumminess from our kitchen and all the packaging, cutlery and plates are compostable or biodegradable.
THE BANQUETING TABLE
"In the past, this may have been referred to as a buffet but we're not talking cheese and pineapple on a stick or curled sandwiches, oh no, the banquet is a very much more upscale version. Much like the picnic wedding, it can be as traditional or extravagant as your heart desires. A banqueting table is a perfect way to offer a wide range of choice whilst providing a showstopping centrepiece of yumminess! You could include whole roasted joints of meat and sides of fish alongside interesting and thoughtful sides such as chargrilled cauliflower with tahini yoghurt and pomegranate, spicy asian slaw with sweet chilli and peanuts, potato salad with egg, capers and dill. Here you can afford to mix up the traditional with a few more unusual flavours as people edit the menu according to their tastes. Serve on bamboo platters with wooden forks for a more rustic vibe.
THE HARVEST PLATTER
"Very much of the moment on the wedding breakfast scene it's a perfect option for the evening as well as a relaxed day-time affair. Similar to the banqueting table it makes for an abundant centrepiece but typically consists of pre-made specialities from the region such as breads, meats, cheeses, and antipasti, giving a sense of foraged foods. It is also an opportunity to showcase the best in local artisan producers from the region, which means less food miles and supporting local producers.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
"Family-style dining offers all the ceremony of a sit-down meal with the fun and conviviality of a lunch party amongst friends. Guests can be treated to traditional whole roasted joints to carve and share or a curious and colourful curry or tagine, evoking memories of the couple's time spent travelling. Its a personal thing but either way there's a reason the term 'breaking bread' is used to describe the companionable sharing of a meal. With this style of dining everyone is required to carve, pass or help others, it's a great ice breaker and frankly just the loveliest way to share a meal whilst getting to know the rest of the party.
THE HIGH TEA
"This oh-so-English tradition is cute, super-fun, pretty and flexible. It allows guests to curate something beautiful and bespoke such as langoustine, lemon and fennel open sandwiches alongside pear and Winterdale shaw pastries, or piles of scotch eggs. Desserts combine delicious little morsels of fruit-heavy tarts, mini passionfruit meringue pies, sharp lemon tarts topped with elderflower cream or something gooey and chocolatey to please the crowd. With an ideal 12 or more pieces per person, there's more than enough choice to excite and delight both you and your guests.
"There's nothing like a bit of smoke and fire to add theatre to an event. The smell and sizzle of chargrilling against a backdrop of chattering and glass chinking is as celebratory a sound as any. If you can overcome the anxiety of a possible downpour or more practically, I'd suggest planning a wet weather outpost for both your barbecue and your guests, go for it and if luck is on your side you will make beautiful smoke-filled memories of your delicious affair! From a sustainability perspective, all our meat is local, organic and free range meaning higher welfare and reduced food miles. In season salads are local and barbecue options such as hog roast are a nose to tail dining option with less waste."
Check out www.seasonswildandfree.com
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